This is one of my favourite relishes (taken from Jennifer McGruther’s fabulous The Nourished Kitchen) and one that is very familiar to my husband who is of Jewish heritage. Horseradish, or Chrain, is a member of the brassica family and, alongside its more popular counterparts cabbage, kale and broccoli, is a particularly rich source of glucosinolates. These chemicals have been widely studied and found to be protective against cancer and help to safely process sex hormones through the liver.
Horseradish is considered a bitter herb and so is also used to help stimulate the production of bile, which not only helps to support good digestion and the elimination of waste from the body, but also good sex hormone regulation.
Anyone who has ever grated fresh horseradish will be aware of its pungency! It has been traditionally used to treat bronchitis and sinusitis by opening up airways, expelling mucus and exerting an antibiotic effect (it certainly cleared my sinuses!).
This recipe partners horseradish with apple and, my absolute favourite ‘dessert island’ vegetable, beetroot, which not only sweetens the bitter notes but also adds to the nutritional potency.
We have come across a lot of wild horseradish on our Wild Food Adventures, but it is illegal to dig up the roots of any plant in the wild (even one as invasive as horseradish), however my fabulous friend Sandra happily provided the horseradish used in this recipe from her allotment where, she said, it was behaving like a complete brute!
I did discover however that the leaves can also be used in pickling and may not only impart some mustard flavour but may also help to keep pickled cucumbers crunchy. A recipe to try in the new year …
Horseradish, Apple & Beetroot Relish
Fills about 3 x 500ml kilner jars
- 450g apples, peeled and cored
- 550g beetroot, peeled
- 225g horseradish, peeled
- 1tbs fine sea salt (plus more if needed)
Grate the beetroot, apples and horseradish (I do this in a food processor). This sounds a simple instruction, but the smell from the horseradish is enough to strip paint, so ensure you do this in a very well-ventilated room and have tissues on stand-by!
Transfer into a large mixing bowl and add stir in the salt. Massage the mixture for about 3 minutes to help to start to break up the fibers of the fruits and vegetables (you may find wearing a pair of food gloves very useful here!).
Transfer the mixture into sterile preserving jars, pounding down as you go, using a wooden spoon or the end of a rolling pin to release the juices and create a natural ‘brine’.
The brine should completely cover the vegetables. If it doesn’t, make up some additional brine by dissolving 1tsp sea salt in 250ml of water and pour in enough to ensure that the vegetables are submerged.
Seal the jars and place in a warm spot in the kitchen to ferment, then retire to a cool room to bathe your stinging eyes … (horseradish is a brute in the kitchen as much as in the earth!).
Check on the jar daily to ensure that the vegetables are still submerged and top up with more brine if required.
Taste the relish after 10 days to check the flavour. If you prefer a more sour flavour, then leave for a further 5-7 days. When you are happy with the flavour, transfer to the fridge, where it can be stored for 6 months or longer.